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Where's Frances Grier Now? Edition 2

Our favourite intrepid adventurer, Frances Grier, has now had nine weeks in the saddle on the way to Mongolia and we feel like it's high-time for another update.

Having set off from Brussels on Thursday 1st Feb, Frances had several impressively quick but frustratingly snowy weeks of cycling across Europe before making the decision to hop, skip and jump from Bratislava to Istanbul a few of weeks ago. She's been steaming across Turkey ever since. She’s writing her own blog which you can read in full  here - we’re all hooked - but we thought we’d also put together a quick summary.

(If you're wondering who on Earth Frances Grier is, check out our  interview with her).

  Frances grier map trip Europe

 

Frances grier map trip turkey

 

Prague to Istanbul  

Having waved goodbye to Ben in Prague, Frances was back on her own as she headed across Czechia. The going was tough and, while the snow was comfortable to sleep on, temperatures dropped down to -6 degrees overnight and mornings were bitterly cold. 

Of course, the cold isn't the only issue for the winter cyclist and the heavy snowfall made cycling down tracks almost impossible. Gritted roads were the only option but even these were very icy and Frances took several spills as she forged eastwards to join the Danube outside of Vienna. It also turns out that gloves and brake levers can be a dangerous combination! 

After a couple of restorative but freezing days in Vienna with friends and cake, Frances was back on her bike as she pedalled down the Danube to Bratislava. At this point it was also time for the full 'Cold Weather Outfit' and Frances slipped into her thermal leggings, socks, leg warmers, fleece lined trousers, four merino tops, two down jackets and two pairs of gloves to keep warm. 

It was just too cold and Frances made the wise decision to fast-track to Istanbul. This was easier said than done and five (ish?) trains, and an unexpected night with a lovely train friend called Stacy in Sofia, Frances finally arrived in Istanbul. 

 

17 Feb: sightseeing day in Prague

18 Feb: Prague to a camp spot near Cechtice, due south east of Prague. Uneventful day but camped in 10cm of snow and -11°C. 81.6km

19 Feb: slow day, marred by extreme cold, relentless undulations, snow covered roads and a south easterly headwind. From campspot to lunch in Humpolec, overnight in Jihlava. 51.7km

20 Feb: along the (ice-free) main road from Jihlava to the excellently named Znojmo, just north of the Czech-Austria border. Lots if lorries but made good time and stopped at 15:30 for cake. 75.2km 

21 Feb: from Znojmo to Hevlin on the Czech-Austria border. Crossed into Austria and headed towards Wolkendorf on a bit of a wiggly route. Camping in muddy field with many deer. 84.3km

22 Feb: from my muddy camp spot (about 7km from Wolkendorf) to Vienna. 33.4km

23 Feb: sightseeing in Vienna

 

The unphotographical St Stephan's Cathedral in Vienna #vienna #wein

A post shared by Frances Grier (@gobibike) on

 

24 Feb: sightseeing in Vienna

25 Feb: brunch in Vienna then along the Danube to Bratislava, the final stop on the European leg of my trip. Quick dinner in Bratislava then train to Budapest. Max temp -5°, finished in -9° at 6pm and -12° overnight in Budapest. 84.2km

26 Feb: sightseeing in Budapest then night train to Bucharest

27 Feb: arrived Bucharest midday on night train, changed to delayed train to Ruse, just over the border into Bulgaria. Ruse train four hours late due to snow, missed subsequent connections towards Istanbul so took train to Sofia, arriving 2am. All of Eastern Europe under 60cm of snow in last 24hours, trains and planes cancelled, roads closed and no buses going anywhere. Kind lady on train taken me into her home in Sofia

27 Feb: arrived Bucharest midday on night train, changed to delayed train to Ruse, just over the border into Bulgaria. Ruse train four hours late due to snow, missed subsequent connections towards Istanbul so took train to Sofia, arriving 2am. All of Eastern Europe under 60cm of snow in last 24hours, trains and planes cancelled, roads closed and no buses going anywhere. Kind lady on train taken me into her home in Sofia

1 Mar: arrived Istanbul early morning by train from Sofia. Will sightsee for a couple of days

 

 

Istanbul to Sivas  

Meeting up with a friend of a friend, Joe, in Istanbul Frances found herself a very orange cycling buddy for her first week or so in Turkey. 

 

 

With hills and cobbles and traffic to challenge even the maddest of metropolises, Frances didn't do too much cycling in Istanbul but did hop on the ferry across to the Princes' Islands for a day of cycling bliss. 

Snow was thankfully now a distant memory but winds and thunderstorms made the path to the ancient cities of Troy and Ephesus a tough journey. Aside from the wind there was also a constant battle to out-ride all of the Turkish dogs who chased Joe and Frances at every opportunity. Sometimes they were scary, sometimes they were nothing but cute.

 

 

The Turkish themselves have been nothing but lovely and Frances has been given free nuts and fruit, a meal that a service station attendant had brought as a packed lunch from his mother, and even had to invent a wedding (her own) in December to put off a very helpful (and keen) hotel worker. 

Now in Sivas she's continuing to blaze the trail in the direction of the Gobi Desert. She's also mastered the art of eating pistachios one handed while cycling. If you're looking for her, follow the shell scattered road. 

The highlights so far though?

The beautiful natural spring thermal calcite pools in Pamukkale

 

 

The cave city of Selime

 

And hot air ballooning over Cappadocia

 

 

2 Mar: sightseeing in Istanbul

3 Mar: sightseeing in Istanbul. Princes Islands cycle 25.4km

4 Mar: sightseeing in Istanbul

5 Mar: multiple modes of transport! Cycled through Istanbul’s old town to get a metro to get a bus to get to Tekirdag and out of the city’s traffic. Cycled Tekirdag to near Sarkoy on the peninsula running south west to the Dardanelles. Camping on the shores of the Sea of Marmara. 84.9km

6 Mar: from near Sarkoy through some mud to the highway running to Gallipoli. Gave Penelope her best clean yet at a service station, then took the short ferry across the Dardanelles to the Asian continent and continued to Cannakale. Into SW headwind all afternoon. 86.4km

7 Mar: 25km from camp spot to Troy and looking around the ancient city. 40kmph headwinds making cycling vertu difficult. Headed further SW in the afternoon to camp near Bozeli. 65.7km

8 Mar: still into SW headwinds and up hills but came over a mountain to wonderful views ofrom the Aegean Sea and the island of Lesbos. Followed the coast some more and camping in an olive grove. 100.7km

9 Mar: glorious weather for cycling. Winds in all directions but lovely sunshine. Reached Pergamon after lunchtime for some ancient sightseeing and another night camping in an olive grove. 85.7

10 Mar: another lovely day. Clocked up the 2000km. Cycled to Izmir and found a real, live cycle path towards the end! 106.2km – an equal longest day ride

11 Mar: genuine rest day with no sightseeing schedule in Izmir. Haircut and bike fix.

12 Mar: from Izmir through the mountains to the Aegean coast for one last time. Camping on the beach. 79.4km

13 Mar: sightseeing in Ephesus and leaving the coast to turn east. Goodbye to Joe. 55.7km

14 Mar: from near Incirliova to camp spot next to Pamukkale. 139.7km. Bosh. Though got disturbed in the night by armed police…

15 Mar: most of the day at Pamukkale. Shop worker gave me his lunch which his mother had made him. Camped in a (dry) riverbed to try to hide from any more policemen. 54.9km

16 Mar: Konya is 3.5 days away. Can I do it in 3? Very keen for a shower! Opt for longer but less mountainous route and camp near Karaaldilli. Exciting new landscapes. 132.2km

17 Mar: exciting landscapes turn into very dull highway after lunch. Head towards mountains after all. Camp near Doganhiser. 142.1km 

18 Mar: mountain route proper now! Making amends for wimping out of it two days ago. Climbed to 1600m altitude before dropping down to Konya and having a much needed shower. 96km

19 Mar: oh my word. 152.3km. Granted there was almost no climbing, I only stopped for one cup of tea, and I now can’t sit down. Landscape totally, totally flat with nowhere at all to hide and camp so ended up going to the next town of Aksaray.

20 Mar: Aksaray to Cappedoccia (Goreme to be precise) via Selime and Ihlara. Too ambitious. Sightseeing in Selime turned out to be magnificent and I spent too long there, then strong winds all afternoon. Stunning scenery but legs had no power, bum very sore, shoulders aching. Last 35km in darkness fuelled by adrenaline, stubbornness and desperation. Clocked up the 3000km but 982km in the nine days since my last rest in Izmir – time for a few days off in Cappedoccia. 129.3km

21 Mar: sightseeing in Cappadocia

22 Mar: sightseeing in Cappadocia

23 Mar: sightseeing in Cappadocia

24 Mar: rest day in Cappadocia while weather blows through

25 Mar: gentle cycling out of Cappadocia with many photo stops. First puncture of the trip at 3101km. Overnight in Kayseri. 80.2km

26 Mar: from Kayseri towards Sivas. Met some Kiwi boys cycling the other way. Visited 1800BC Hittite settlement and 1200AD caravanserai. 98.7km



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